The Sunderland fan who took the ferry to Roker Park matches - but is he the new contender to a unique crown?
They just keep coming in! A new contender has emerged for the oldest fan still alive to see Sunderland at the top of English football.
Harry Harle, who will soon be 87, remembers the days of Jonny Mapson, Len Duns, Jack Stelling and more.
He even recalls how he got to matches with his dad in his younger days – by walking along the Hendon road to get the ferry and then doing the same on the way home.
Harry’s memories stretch right back to watching Sunderland in the war years when there was a Northern regional league and when the Roker End was out of bounds because it had been bombed.
The Gilley Law resident told the Echo: “I remember we were top of the league when we lost to Manchester City in 1949.”
City had already been relegated but Sunderland lost the game. Sunderland then won their last three games but the damage had already been done and they failed to win the league, eventually finishing third.
“I used to watch them at all matches and I used to go to away games in the days when I got a car,” said Harry. He recalled following The Lads and standing under the number 16 sign in the Roker End.
He even remembers being there when the Roker End reopened after the war.
"I first watched them when I lived in Hendon and my dad took me.”
These days, Harry loves a game of golf and has been a member of Seaham Golf Club for over 50 years.
Sandy, now 76, watched The Lads in 1952 in a December game at Cardiff – where he lived at the time – when Sunderland were level with Wolves at the summit of the table.
He first saw Sunderland when they were first in the league against sides such as the two Sheffield giants, Huddersfield Town and the big Manchester clubs.
He said there were that many fans in the Fulwell End they ran across the pitch and watched from the Roker End.
Now we have Harry, who is soon to be 87. Harry went to Bede Grammar School and later had jobs including in the Borough treasurer’s department in the town hall until 1957.
He did his National Service in the Royal Navy from 1962 and later worked at Siemens Edison Swan as a time and motion engineer.
He worked at the Brian Mills factory for 4 years, Websters ropery from 1964 to 1968, and for the Northern Regional Health Authority for 12 years before setting up his own business in a carpet and upholstery cleaning franchise.
He hopes to hold the honour of being the oldest fan still alive to see the Black Cats at the top of English football. Unless you know better of course.
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